It used to be insane to think a second-year football program like the University of West Florida could find itself on the doorstep of playing in the NCAA Division II national title game so soon.
Now, the unbelievable is believable after the Argonauts rallied for a 28-21 win over Gulf South Conference champion West Alabama Saturday in the national quarterfinal round at Tiger Stadium.
The Argos (10-3) are headed to the national semifinals in Pennsylvania next Saturday against Indiana (Pa.), the lone top seed still standing. They will battle for the right to play in the championship game Dec. 16 in Kansas City.
With a South Region championship in their possession, the Argos head into the next round with more postseason wins (3) than years of existence (2).They are riding a five-game win streak that doubles their 2016 win total.
All three playoff wins have come on the road. And just like last week against West Georgia, the Argos found themselves trailing 14-7 in the second half.
Anthony Johnson scored on a 40-yard run with 12:47 to play to tie the game at 14-14. The momentum was in UWF’s favor the rest of the way.
Mike Beaudry rose to the occasion as he has so often in just his first year as a starting quarterback. He hooked up with Joshua Smiley on a 25-yard scoring strike with 5:55 to play in the third. The touchdown gave the Argos the lead for good.
The icing on the cake came with 6:27 to go in the fourth. Chris Schwarz bulldozed into the end zone from two yards out to put UWF ahead 28-14.
The defense finished the job, only allowing a desperation touchdown with 1:32 left.
UWF’s defense has been solid as a rock throughout this magical playoff run, giving up 35 points in three games. It’s one of the reasons the Argos are playing football deep into December.
The Argos, a sixth seed with no tradition of history or playoff success, are the story of the year in NCAA Division II football and are one of three surprises in this playoff field.
Harding is also headed to the semifinals as a seventh seed. Texas A&M Commerce is a fifth seed.
Anything can happen in the playoffs. The Argos do know one thing: Their dream of accomplishing the unbelievable is still intact.
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